are the stars out tonight?

life and stuff


er, is it just me, or is something up with blogspot today? this page usually looks a lot nicer than this, and i'm pretty sure i haven't changed anything.

well this is both ugly and annoying. and seems to have affected some other blogspot blogs rather less badly than mine. curse my need for customisation.

update - oops, they seem to have fixed it even as i was typing. move along, nothing to see here, except - of course - nearly three and a half years of blogging.

rebel rebel

i've been enjoying the beeb's latest cop show life on mars, the basic premise of which it is that a modern day policeman gets hit by a car and goes back in time to 1973, where he is astonished by un-pc attitudes, lack of forensics and primitive technology.

it's a terrific watch - funny, weird, exciting and it's got a good soundtrack. and it does make you think about life back then. without mobiles and ipods and, heck, computers that fit into a space smaller than a room. we're talking pre-internet too. i suppose the target demographic (yeah, this is how i talk, now i work in tv) is people who never saw the 1970s, or at least don't remember it too clearly, but my parents are quite keen on it too, though in a different way. they worked in pre-computer offices, when you had to write everything by hand and then get it typed up. which is, really, a world away from 2006. *

but then today i got the chance to experience life in the seventies, when we had a spectacular power cut at work. the lights went off at 1.15, and didn't come back on... well, they did come back on, but not before they'd evacuated the building as it was getting too dark. so there was a whole afternoon (ok, more like a couple of hours, cos i had my lunch and we did get to go home early) where we worked like it was 1973. pens on paper. no wikipedia for fact checking purposes (not that i use it... honest). seriously, life without backspace sux0rs.

*incidentally, i am pronoucing this year twenty-oh-six, like charlotte green, (don't click that link if you want all your preconceptions ruined forever). it sounds so much more like the future.

So this is the new year

death cab fans can fill in the rest.

yesterday i duty managed a seven year old's birthday party.

'wow, fb, that's, like, totally the most interesting thing you could possibly tell us,' i hear you say sarcastically, (because obviously you all talk like californian teenagers and address me as fb, even though you know my real name). and you're right, it's not terrifically interesting, except for the fact that i duty managed his sixth birthday party too. plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

because my life has changed dramatically in the last twelve months. heck it's changed dramatically in the last six months. i'm doing my best to embrace change, cos, y'know, that's what you're supposed to do. but it's scary. of course. there is a whole new era ahead. and i'm sorely tempted to bury my head under the blankets. unfortunately that never seems to work.

at uni, i could pretty much tell you exactly where i would be in a year's time. everything was well mapped out, and predictable. i feel like i'm moving into uncharted territory now.

five from '05

part 5: websites

if i wasn't already a bit addicted to the internet, this was the year that i became a complete slave to the web. selling my soul for a wikipedia fix. or something. so here are five sites that i've particularly loved this year.

  • the most popular links on at any given time. from serious coding to silly quicktime movies. once you start, it's really hard to stop.

  • i've become obsesed with my charts, it completely fascinates me. how, for instance, have i listened to more libertines than pulp? it's curious. the radio function is worth the sign up fee - although it doesn't actually work in my office. sigh.

  • flickr... it's not just about being able to post my own pictures, though that's obviously good, it's also about looking at other people's versions of the same ideas. look at the pictures tagged belle and sebastian for instance, it's mesmerising.

  • is a mp3 blog search engine, so if you want to hear somthing by a band you can put them into and hear a couple of sample tracks that have been chosen by bloggers. i bought quite a few albums last year after downloading songs i'd found through this site.

  • no rock and roll fun... is the first site i check in the morning. simon puts in so much work and no rock is an amazing blog. it's not just that he always has the news, but also that his comments are often really funny, and his opinion is usually spot on.

five from '05

part 4: films

this was a year of weepies... i seem to have spent a lot of time in tears at the cinema this year, with screenwriters killing off characters at the drop of a hat. but catharsis is always, y'know, a good thing. special mention here to march of the penguins, because i cried so much i thought i was going to melt into a puddle - who knew there were so many ways baby penguins could die.

  • serenity... so. damn. good. funny and fighty and just grate! i want more.

  • the life aquatic with steve zissou... wes anderson is prolly my favourite director at the moment, but the life aquatic wasn't his best film. it was, however, a lot of fun. and the soundtrack was fantastic

  • les choristes... a really sweet film, it had an amelie-esque charm, and was a pretty easy watch. it makes the list because i'm still thinking about it six months after seeing it, which doesn't always happen.

  • harry potter and the goblet of fire... the best potter yet... and jarvis was in it, which makes it essentially perfect, if you ask me. i didn't even realise they'd cut out a rather important subplot until a week after i first saw it!

  • d!g/drive well sleep carefully - two films about bands, but such different bands - where death cab are utterly disciplined and dedicated, brian jonestown massacre are all over the place. both enjoyable films, for different reasons.
(and five dvds i rented from lovefilm and enjoyed: heathers, the big lebowski, final destination, the life of david gale, bullets over broadway.)

(*special bonus* five tv shows i watched a lot last year: the oc, veronica mars, gilmore girls, dr who, lost.)

five from '05

part 3: books

yes, i failed miserably in the 52 book challenge, partially due to indolence, and partially to business (i am that oxymoron, a lazy person who's always working). but here are five new books i enjoyed last year (well, one's a re-release):

  • the line of beauty - alan hollinghurst... lovely, a really meaty book that made 48 hours of african drumming totally bearable.

  • true grit - charles portis... a fantastic adventure story, told with a strange lack of emotion, but far from colourless.

  • harry potter and the half blood prince - jk rowling... potter. needs no description because you've surely all read it. i did enjoy it though.

  • we need to talk about kevin - lionel shriver... chilling, but a really, really great book. one of those books that you can't stop thinking about when you put it down.

  • the time traveler's wife - audrey niffenegger... a strangely guilty pleasure - this was an easy read, but was also really well written and well paced.
(and five books i wasn't massively impressed by: jonathan strange and mr norell - susanna clarke, coma - alex garland, the final solution - michael chabon (it was good, but so short! i want more), eleanor rigby - douglas coupland, live bait - pj tracy)

five from '05

part 2: gigs

working at a music venue, i saw a lot of gigs last year that just don't really count because i had other things on my mind, and i wasn't really been paying attention, or i'd not seen the support acts. but i also saw some great shows. five favourites:

  • belle and sebastian play if you're feeling sinister at the barbican, 25-09-05... was great - my favourite album of all time played by my favourite band of all time. plus some surprises, including electronic renaissance. the itunes download of the gig is good, but not as good as actually being there was!

  • rufus wainwright at shepherd's bush empire 15-04-05... was probably the most fun i have had at a gig - pure showmanship and some really great songs.

  • kimya dawson at the pullens centre 25-09-05... (yep the same day as b&s), the first breakfast gig i have ever been to, it was totally worth getting up early to go.

  • manic street preachers at hammersmith apollo 19-04-05... a total fans set with almost nothing from the latest album, i was down the front shrieking like a teenager. i can't help it. it's like a pavlovian response!

  • bright eyes at somerset house 11-07-05... actually it was a bit of a disappointment, but the venue is so lovely, i can't believe i hadn't been before. conor restricted himself to songs from digital ash, which i've not heard. i was not best pleased. there was a lovely sunset though.

(and five bands i really enjoyed at work in 2005: mountain goats 23-11, scissor sisters 14-08, jeffrey lewis & dufus 16-05, the pipettes 04-03, ed harcourt & tom mccrae 22-07.)

five from '05

part 1: records

2005 was meant to be the year i bought more new music, and actually, i did. for a long time, i've been worried that my music taste has been stagnating, but this year has introduced me to a fair few bands that i think are great. so here are five albums released in the last year i think are awesome (in no particular order):

(and five also-rans: guero - beck, plans - death cab for cutie, cuts across the land - the duke spirit, too tall to hide - halloween, alaska, the great destroyer - low)